Mark Anthony Barriga
2013 SEA GAMES/DEC.13,2013
Mark Barriga (blue) of the Philippines connects with a left to the face of Mohd Faud Mohd Reuvan (red) of Malaysia during the Men’s Light Fly weight (45-49kg) semifinal boxing match at the Wunna Theikdi Sports Stadium, 2013 SEA Games, Naypyitaw, Myanmar.

MANILA — After going through the proverbial eye of the needle in Myanmar, the Philippines stands to face a more arduous task in its bid to win boxing medals in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Korea, the Alliances of Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) said.

Since the competition will be a lot tougher during the Sept. 19 to Oct. 4 Asiad, ABAP executive director Ed Picson said members of the team have been ordered to report for training camp on Jan. 5.

The Philippines brought home only three gold medals from the 2013 Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar courtesy of Josie Gabuco (women’s light-flyweight), Mark Anthony Barriga (light-fly) and Mario Fernandez (bantam) with Picson declaring that they could have won three or four more had it not been for spotty officiating and judging.

With the Myanmar chapter already closed, the association is training its sights on a more potent showing in Incheon although Filipino fighters won’t just contend with their traditional rival Thailand and Myanmar but bets from the former Soviet republics as well as China and Japan and the host Koreans.

The last time in Guangzhou four years ago, flyweight Rey Saludar captured the gold medal and during the Myanmar SEAG, Saludar failed to figure in the gold medal match as he settled for the bronze.

“The Asian Games is going to be a lot more different and tougher,” said Picson.

To rev up for the Asian Games, Picson said candidates will be sent to compete in several overseas tournaments and training camps.

While the SEAG gold medalists are shoo-ins, they will still have to fight for spots alongside the rising stars from the youth squad.

A team will be sent to participate in the Asian Youth championships in Bangkok next month.

Like the Philippines, Thailand, which scooped seven SEAG gold medals, is also focused on making waves in Incheon with its association raring to start its Asiad buildup. (Nick Giongco)